Bolts & Dolts: San Diego Chargers at New Orleans Saints, Week 5

Chuck Cook -US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

Going through the box score of the San Diego Chargers loss to the New Orleans Saints to give attention to players that played above, or below, expectations.

Bolts

Ryan Mathews - 12 carries, 80 rush yds, 1 rush TD, 6 catches, 59 rec yds
Ryan Mathews was great last night. Drew Brees was great, but you could argue that Mathews was the most dominant player on the field. That's where things stop being good and start being bad. Here was Norv's offensive playcall in the entire second half:

17-14 Chargers
Run (2 yards)
Pass
Run (13 yard Touchdown)
24-14 Chargers
Run (-4 yards)
Run (12 yards)
Pass
Run (2 yards)
Pass
Pass
Pass
Run (6 yards) (on 3rd and 22)
Punt
24-21 Chargers
Run (2 yards)
Pass
Pass
Punt
28-24 Saints (8:50 left in 4th Quarter)
Pass
Pass
Pass
Pass
Pass
Pass (Intercepted)
31-24 Saints (2:56 left in 4th Quarter)
Pass
Pass
Pass
Pass
Pass
Pass
Pass
Pass
Pass
Pass
Pass
Pass
Pass
Pass (Fumble)

Yup. After the run worked so well against the Saints in the first half and to start the second half, Norv decided that it was no longer useful. It had no place in an offense that had a lead, on the road, and was trying to quiet the crowd and win the momentum back. That's just brilliant, considering a strong running game is exactly what you want in that situation.

Mathews had a good game and Norv had a really bad one. 27 pass attempts against 7 rushing attempts. That's the type of balance you'd expect from a team that's down by 3 touchdowns, not one that's leading half the time and the other half the time is within one score and needs to control the pace of the game.

RUN MOAR

Malcom Floyd - 8 catches, 108 rec yds
Again, good and bad. The good is that Floyd had another really good game and is still healthy through 5 weeks. The bad is that Floyd probably would've had about 200 receiving yards if half of his catches weren't called back due to holding penalties on the offensive line (lots of late flags on Chargers' holding penalties, as well). The refs were not going to let Malcom beat the Saints on this night.

Robert Meachem - 3 catches, 67 rec yds, 2 rec TDs
Meachem caught one ridiculous TD that he had no business catching, then took advantage of a Safety forgetting his over-the-top coverage for his other TD grab. It was good to see him finally get on the board.

Ronnie Brown - 2 carries, 27 rush yds, 5 catches, 47 rec yds
I said this on Twitter during the game, but Ronnie Brown is an excellent back to give 7 touches a game to. Any more than that and he'll start wearing down. I don't love that he's the RB in the Chargers' two-minute offense, but I'll live. Anyway, Brown got his limited touches and got first downs with almost every one.

Honorable Mention: Antonio Gates, Eric Weddle

Dolts

Norv Turner
See the Ryan Mathews thing above. I'm not blaming Philip Rivers for his two turnovers. That's going to happen when he's throwing 40+ times behind a poor offensive line. Oh yeah.

Offensive Line
These guys seemed to be having fun blocking for Ryan Mathews, but could not keep the Saints pass rush off of Philip Rivers (except by holding). Jared Gaither was sporadically good until getting injured and killing the final drive (by not leaving the game). Rivers was sacked 5 times and it really could've been more.

The Refs

The Secondary
We all knew that this group was thin and would struggle against a spread offense like the Saints. Then we sighed in relief when we heard the Saints would be missing two WRs for the game. Didn't matter. Antoine Cason can no longer be considered a starting CB in the NFL, because he can't cover physical WRs. Quentin Jammer is the opposite, as father time has robbed him of his ability to stay with fast WRs. This would be fine if those guys didn't play in the same spot on every single play, making it easy for opposing offenses to line their physical guy on Cason and their fast guy on Jammer.

Don't even get me started on Atari Bigby, who had a fun intro and was then torn to shreds for biting on play-action fakes (against a team that couldn't run the ball). That part of his game, the part where he's supposed to not bite on play-action fakes and provide over-the-top coverage, is starting to be a problem. Despite the fact that he was terrible at everything else, that was what Steve Gregory was best at.

Melvin Ingram
When you're on the road, facing a team that is typically great at home and has very loud fans, and you have all the momentum, there is one rule you need to follow. DO NOT GIVE THEM BACK THE MOMENTUM. That's it. No other rule matters nearly as much as that.

In a nutshell, that means "Do not screw up". Don't turn the ball over. Don't extend their drives with stupid penalties. Play like a Bill Belichick-coached team. Aggressive, but smart. Sure, maybe you abandon coverage on the RB so you can try and sack the QB, but you definitely don't put your helmet down and hit him with it. Ever. EVER.

Ingram_medium_medium

If Melvin leads with his shoulder, or simply uses his hands to push Brees backwards, the Chargers have a 31-14 lead with one quarter remaining and the Saints have turned the ball over on consecutive drives. It would be almost impossible for San Diego to lose that game.

Dishonorable Mention: Jackie Battle, Eddie Royal, Nick Novak, team tackling

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